Save 35% on an Apple iPhone Using Microsoft Bing??

[Note: This deal could stop working at anytime. But it was working as of June 10, 2009 2:50 PM]

Well, I would say this is quasi ironic.

Check out the results of the top of this link: http://www.bing.com/search?q=att

Notice how it has a "Bing Cashback" logo at the very top result which is the AT&T Official Wireless Site.

So apparently, if you use Microsoft Bing to buy a phone at AT&T, including the Apple iPhone 3GS, you will get 35% off your purchase!

Microsoft and Apple are "partners" here. Like I said, quasi-ironic.

There is a noted stipulation that this is for new subscribers; that could be true, but I can't verify it.

Check out these links for more info on this:

FatWallet Forums
MacRumors Forums

And as always, your mileage may vary (YMMV) :-)


OnLive - Intel, AMD, Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo Had Better Be On High Alert

I was listening to Windows Weekly the other day, and the topic of OnLive came up. Maybe I live under a rock, but I had never heard of OnLive. Well, I have now. And if their vision comes to fruition, there better be some companies that better get in gear or start to s#%t in their pants.

OnLive, in a nutshell, is a "cloud" video game service. In other words, all video games live on their servers and you subscribe to the ones that you want to play. But you don't download the games to your machine and play them locally. You play them on *their* servers, and they push content back and forth to you through your web browser via your broadband connection. In other words, your computer now becomes a glorified dumb internet terminal that receives the images of the actions you perform in the video game; the OnLive servers do all of the heavy lifting of graphics processing.

So, the theory is that you can have a NetBook or an old Centrino laptop and you can play Crysis!! Crysis on a NetBook?!? I don't effing believe it. But that is their vision, and with the way the video game companies are signing up in droves to be a part of this service (can you say EA?), this vision may actually have legs.

And if it has legs, oh my, how that changes things for companies like:

Intel, AMD: Video games are the most processor intensive applications in the world. If OnLive is successful, that opens the flood gates for more processor-intensive subscription-type markets. People can buy less powerful machines, but still get top quality functionality. That could eat heavily into the Intel and AMD profit margins -- although, Intel and AMD should hope that OnLive buys their processors for the OnLive servers.

Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo: Well, this is simple. The video game console becomes obsolete. As Paul Thurrott alluded to in Windows Weekly - 'Microsoft just wasted $5 billion in their XBox investment'

Now, of course, broadband would need to be plentiful. Quality of Service would need to be guaranteed. As they alluded in the Windows Weekly show - hey, Comcast, are you listening? And, there are other hurdles to overcome. They were talking about Amazon buying this service being a good play. I am not 100% convinced right now of that being a smart move; but if this does what I think it might do, then yes, any company should buy OnLive if they had the resources.

This is definitely something I will be keeping tabs on because this could be a "game changer" (pun absolutely intended). And I don't say that often.


Bill Gates: The Mosquito Prankster

Who knew that Bill Gates could be this "funny"?

LONG BEACH, California (AFP) – Microsoft founder turned disease-battling philanthropist Bill Gates loosed mosquitoes at an elite Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) Conference to make a point about the deadly sting of malaria.

"Malaria is spread by mosquitoes," Gates said while opening a jar onstage at a gathering known to attract technology kings, politicians, and Hollywood stars.

"I brought some. Here I'll let them roam around. There is no reason only poor people should be infected."

Gates waited a minute or so before assuring the audience the liberated insects were malaria-free.

Well, I guess if he made a mistake, and a mosquito or two did have malaria, Bill Gates has the money to fight off some of the lawsuits (although not as much money as he used to have -- so he had better be more careful).


Mac Personal Finance Software: iBank Wins, Moneywell Has Promise, Who Knows About Quicken Financial Life

iBank will be my Mac financial application, as imperfect as it may be. But it is by far the best and most complete financial software package out there for my needs (and if you include iBiz, it would match Microsoft Money in most, if not all, facets). I will wait and see what happens with Moneywell, and I am intrigued by the upcoming release Quicken Financial Life (although I am disappointed I cannot be a part of the beta).

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The 100 Oldest Internet Domain Names -- Microsoft Not Included

I found this piece on the 100 oldest internet domain names very interesting. Symbolics.com is the oldest (Who?? ;-) )

You will see companies like Intel, AMD, AT&T, HP, Adobe on this list, but one company that was surprisingly missing was Microsoft. I would have figured that they would have been one of the first domain names. Back in the late 80s Microsoft was still finding its roots and wasn't the success it is today; but still, it was interesting to see this omission. They didn't buy their domain until 1991.

Octopus.com is on the list, but not microsoft.com :-)

How I Resolved the “There Was A Problem with this Installation. Windows Live Suite Was Not Installed” Catastrophic Error

So I wanted to install the latest version of Windows Live Mail. I figured OK, that should be easy. (Note: I am running Vista x64 w/ SP 1)

I went to http://www.windowslive.com/Explore/Mail and clicked on the Get It Now Button

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then I clicked on Download Now

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After clicking on Run for the Windows Live Installer, accepting the agreement and allowing it to try to start installing, I got this:

 

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I was thinking what the heck is this. I tried again, and same thing.

So I did what every person would do in this situation – GOOGLE!

Doing a search with these terms:

"There was a problem with this installation. Windows Live Suite was not installed" "Catastrophic Failure"

yields many results with help options like:

image

After thinking about this and really not wanting to go through a workaround for something that I think doesn’t require a workaround, I realized that I already did have Windows Live Writer installed. As such, I figured I would look into my Control Panel Add/Remove Programs.

And here is what I found:

image

Ahh Ha!

Right click on it and you will get an option to uninstall or change Windows Live Beta.

I then choose Install or uninstall

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and click continue.

Then you get to a window that shows you all of the programs that you have not installed. And you click a check box to the one(s) you want to install, and it works like a charm!

image

I had already installed Mail Beta before I wrote this post; that is why this is checked.

There are two things that I am still unclear on:

  1. Why did the original installer still not work? Was it because I already had an installer available locally?
  2. Did I install the latest version of the Windows Live Mail Beta? I think so according to my research, but I am only 99.9% confident.

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I hope this helps at least one person. Let me know if you have any questions.

If You Are A Yahoo! Stockholder, Are You Mad This Evening?

After seeing the news that Microsoft has abandoned its bid for Yahoo!, do you think the average Yahoo! shareholder is angry that they are unable to now get $33/share for Yahoo! stock, and instead is going to have to watch it (most likely) plummet down to around $20/share again -- the price it was at before Microsoft made its initial offer? I sure hope Jerry Yang and the Yahoo! Board of Directors know what they are doing. These are rich folks on the board and may not be able to see things through the eyes of the everyday shareholder.

Personally, I think they made the wrong decision to not accept Microsoft's $33/share offer this weekend. I honestly think it is a case of "I would rather have the ship sink than be with the "Evil Empire"....well, that wish might just come true. I hope not.

Steve Ballmer's letter to Jerry Yang is very interesting...and the response.

And how does Google feel??????

Microsoft offers 44.6 Billion for Yahoo!

[Update: It is 44.6 not 44.5 billion -- that 100 million may not be significant to Bill G., but it is to us mortals :-) ]

[Update: Would Microsoft try a hostile takeover if Yahoo! rejects the offer? That would be very interesting and a can of worms I am not sure Microsoft wants to open]

Yahoo! has not accepted this deal yet.

In the back of my mind, I knew this would happen. In fact, after Yahoo! reported earnings earlier this week, and the stock plummeted, I thought to myself "I bet Microsoft buys Yahoo! now". I didn't buy Yahoo! stock. :-( Oh well, woulda, coulda, shoulda, I guess.

Anyway, I am still chewing on this deal. Is it good for Microsoft? Is it good for Yahoo! Is it going to be a disaster a la Time Warner-AOL?

The big and obvious question is how Microsoft plans to integrate Yahoo! into its Windows Live offerings. That is a huge undertaking in my mind, and not a 100% slam dunk by any means. For example, what becomes of Yahoo! Mail -- does it get integrated into Windows Live Hotmail? Does Microsoft integrate Yahoo!'s search algorithm into its Windows Live Search?

And, not to mention the culture clash of the two companies. Yahoo! is already laying off 1000 people. Can Microsoft absorb the other Yahoo! employs, or will a mass layoff come?

And then comes the other side of the equation. How does this affect Google? Of course, this deal is a direct aim at Google. Google's stock is starting down after it reported "not great" (according to analysts) earnings last night. That doesn't really matter with respect to this deal, I don't think. It is a long term question -- will Google's dominance be affected by this deal in a negative fashion? This deal would make Microsoft the clear #2 in the search/advertising space, but could it make Microsoft #1?

Very interesting start to the morning, for sure.

No Case-Sensitive Searches in Windows Vista?

For the life of me, I cannot find a way to do a case-sensitive search in Windows Vista.

I am trying to search the documents on my computer that contain a specific word, let's say "Foo". It shows me all documents that contain the word "Foo", "foo", "FoO", etc.

That is fine in and of itself, but there should be an option somewhere in Vista to say "No, only give me 'Foo' and nothing else".

Alas, I cannot find such an option.

Anyone?

My First Micro-ISV Product Ideas

[Note: I have a phone meeting on Wednesday with an old colleague where the result could change my plans. I will keep you posted]

OK, here it goes....for better, worse or the other, I am letting the world know my first product ideas. We'll see if announcing these now was a good idea or not. ;-)

Before reading my specific ideas, make sure you obtain some context by reading my previous post about goals.

As you will notice below, I am entering into pretty saturated markets (i.e much competition exists). However, I have subscribed to the theory that while a totally unique idea that is a hit may provide the best overall outcome, those come very far and few between. Instead, it is much more normal to add value to existing ideas, and let the execution and marketing of the added value bring success. Looking at it from the glass half full perspective, having competition means that people want the product or service (i.e. there is a market).

Also, I have a motto that I want to develop products that *I* will use on a daily basis. That is important to me because it makes me my own customer -- and I don't want to use crappy products either.

So without further ado, here are my product ideas for the next year or so. Again, these products align with my goals.

 

RSS Reader (Desktop)

Yes, there are many RSS readers out there, both web (e.g. Google Reader) and desktop (e.g. FeedDemon) based. I am going to enter my hat into the desktop ring. I will offer the basics, of course. But, I do have some ideas that I hope, in conglomeration, will differentiate mine from others. One is having both a Mac and Windows reader, with the same user experience. The second is being able to sync your feeds (e.g. read/unread) so you can be up-to-date no matter which computer you use the reader on (this requires some sort of web-based storage solution, probably). The third is being able to....well, I don't want to give this one away yet :-)

Business Model: Free basic version; Fixed-price premium version [Note: I am still working out if the free/premium model is the best way to go.]

 

Fantasy Football Information Web Site

Two of my many passions are sports and technology. I figured, hey, why not merge the two. I love playing fantasy football (NFL). There are many fantasy football websites that offer information about who are the best players to play during a given week, game previews, answers to emails, draft software, etc. Some of these sites are from the big boys (e.g. ESPN) and some smaller, yet popular, folks (e.g. Fantasy Football Today). I figured I would offer the same sort of valuable information and tools, but try to do it better and/or differently. In the end, when it comes to sites like these it is all about providing good, relevant and as accurate as possible information.

Business Model: Advertising

 

Package of Tools and Utilities for Windows

I have always like building small tools and utilities. Most of the tools I have built, either for my own uses or for work, I was doing back in my corporation days. I have had folks appreciate the tool work I have done. So I figured why not come up with a list of (hopefully) useful tools and utilities and offer them up free for people. I don't consider any of my ideas here earth shattering, nor unique, but just things I have found a need for. I don't plan for these tools to make money, nor get bought out by Microsoft like SysInternals. I just want to provide them for fun and test an open source business model -- where my goal wouldn't be to make money, but more just get my name out there. Here are a few examples I am thinking of implementing (and, yes, initially these will be Microsoft centric because that is what I know)

  1. An Outlook mail component that makes sure you actually have an attachment in an email that is supposed to have an attachment.
  2. A component for IE7 that automatically puts widely used links in the Links portion of the IE7 browser and makes sure they are bubbled to the "top" of the Links portion (e.g. they are visible in the max screen browser window)
  3. A small utility that allows a user to increase/decrease the number of simultaneous downloads allowed from IE7
  4. A tool that finds all the files where there are multiple instances on your computer (this could be Mac and Windows)

Business Model: Free, Open Source

 

I will provide specific details on each of these efforts as I move along the development path. Right now, I think I am going to work on the Fantasy Football website first so I can have it ready in time for the next NFL Fantasy season, which begins in full force around August.

So there you go. The cat is out of the bag. :-) Now it comes down to execution. Also, I am not adverse to discussing/collaborating/partnering on these ideas or any other ideas. So if you have any thoughts you want to share with me personally, feel free to contact me by email or leave a comment.

Pirates of Silicon Valley

I just watched Pirates of Silicon Valley (again). It was originally a TNT made-for-TV movie, it came out on DVD/VHS a few years back, and apparently it is on YouTube as well. For a techy person like me, this movie was really good. For a non-techy person, this movie should be quite good as well. It stars Noah Wyle (of ER fame) as Steve Jobs (of Apple fame), and Anthony Michael Hall (of Breakfast Club fame) as Bill Gates (of filthy rich -- errrr, Microsoft fame).

It is set from 1971 to 1984 (with a glimpse of 1997) and discusses the rise of these two powerhouse companies -- how Apple "stole" all the constructs for the Macintosh OS from Xerox Parc, and, in a weird sense of irony, how Microsoft stole the constructs for Windows from Apple Macintosh.

The movie really shows, whether true or not, interesting sides of both Jobs and Gates; their business savvy, their quirks and their relationship together. I personally like the way the movies personifies Jobs as a brilliant mind, yet a man who sometimes has a distorted view of reality around family and work (e.g. around his daughter Lisa, whom he claimed was not his, but he named a computer after)

In the end, we all know what happened. Gates got the better of Jobs. Microsoft won, owned the 1990s, and Apple has been playing underdog and catchup ever since. But, since 2000, Apple has coming on very strong and is really a formidable force in both hardware and software nowadays -- all due to Jobs returning as leader of Apple back in late 1997. Hey, I am writing this on a MacBook Pro running OS X Leopard.

This is a popular interpretation of how Apple and Microsoft got their starts and the relationship between Apple/Jobs and Microsoft/Gates. I don't know if the movie provides *the* truth or not; I wasn't there. But still.....great movie!

Goodbye Tiger, Hello Leopard

Today at 6 PM, where ever you are in the world, Apple lets yet another big cat out of its cage. Leopard, the next major Mac operating system update from Apple, will be delivered, bought and/or installed on many a Mac computer. I ordered mine from Amazon because I am frugal, I suppose. So I won't be getting mine until next week. But, I did get an email this morning with the oh-so familiar Amazon subject line: Your Amazon.com order has shipped.That's good news. And, I will be heading out to my local Apple store to see the hoopla (I did that for the iPhone and it was kinda wild -- I don't expect it to nearly match that for Leopard though)...and then have a nice meal at Chick-Fil-A with the family.

 Now, given I am a relatively new Apple convert (I just got my MacBook Pro back in June), I am not sure what to expect with this new update. Apparently, there are 300+ new features or updates from Tiger (the previous Mac operating system).

What I am going to be looking for is how I feel about this update as compared to Windows Vista. I am in the minority in my opinion that Windows Vista is worth the upgrade -- and I am running it on a Mac, which is also relatively rare. So we'll see how how impressed I am with Leopard.

Disabling Reply-All in Microsoft Outlook

Tip for the day from Scott Hanselman. I know I have wanted to do this at times, in addition to disabling forwarding of messages as well (which I am assuming can be done with a similar macro).

Now this doesn't really stop someone from replying to all altogether because a recipient, if so determined, could just manually copy all the recipients from the original email message to the reply email message. But this does solve the "accidental" reply-all.

Changing Tactics On My Approach To Starting My Business

I wrote this post yesterday. I then posted this question on the Business of Software Forum soon after.

I am now changing my business planning a little bit.

Initially, I was very surprised at the responses about how one should go about planning to start a Micro-ISV business. I don't believe anyone said using the 10 Steps To Open For Business was *the way* to go. I heard everything from the list was a "load of rubbish" to it not being a bad list, but you need to be careful of over-analysis.

The overriding theme was that, in this business, you need to find a pain point and bring a product to market as quickly as possible. None of the other stuff matters if you don't do this.

I now understand the responses, and now tend to agree with them. And, after re-opening my Micro-ISV: From Vision to Reality book by Bob Walsh, I am going to deviate from my plan to use the 10 steps and basically use the book as my guide, but start working on product as quickly as possible. The software business moves so quickly that I believe the person who mentioned over-analysis is right on. I already have a product idea (or two), I know where I want to be with my life, I am bootstrapping the business myself -- it is time to "Just Do It!" (sorry again Nike), and I have joined that line of thinking.

Microsoft Shares Source Code to the .NET Framework

I saw this on Scott Guthrie's blog yesterday (I must have had a brain freeze for leaving him off my blogroll): Releasing the Source Code for the .NET Framework Libraries

This is good to see. And this is great news for software developers. For this post, let's leave out the obvious technical reasons as to why this is a good idea for .NET software developers. Releasing the .NET Framework source in and of itself is to me, maybe surprisingly, really not the biggest news. We have been able to "view" the source code for a while now (thanks Lutz!) -- although, being able to "step" into the .NET Framework code in the debugger is huge!

Let's instead focus on the business perception reasons. Microsoft has been slammed by many a person for being the 800 pound gorilla, an opportunistic monopoly, the evil empire, the company that pretends to care about software developers but doesn't, <insert your Microsoft slam here>. Many of these come from the open source community. While Microsoft isn't releasing the source to Windows or Office to the world, the .NET Framework is hardly a flash in the pan. I mean, they are integrating the .NET Framework and all of its siblings and underpinnings into many cash cows, including Windows. With this release, Microsoft is taking a huge step to fully understanding the importance of the software development community. I see this as just one of many steps that Microsoft is going to take in the future to make it real easy to have software developers target .NET, Windows and/or Microsoft technologies in their development --- one semi-bold prognostication I have (and others do too) is the *full* .NET Framework on the Mac, not just via Silverlight.

This alone won't change many of the "gorilla" perceptions that people think about Microsoft, but it's all about baby steps, and I think the baby is beginning to at least toddle around now.

Oh, and to those that think the licensing is bad....it's nothing that isn't expected. All it is really saying in a nutshell is that you can view the source code but can't modify it. That is perfectly reasonable. Microsoft is not a purely open source company, and won't be, so this licensing allows exactly what the intention of the announcement is -- for you to view the source code during your development process.

Marking All RSS Feeds As Read With IE7

I tried, I really tried, to use IE7 as my RSS Reader. Integrated into the browser, feeds right there. Easy. Well, one *necessary* feature is suprisingly missing: "Mark All Feeds As Read". You have to click on each individual feed to have it automatically mark it as read. If you are like me, you are subscribed to a bunch of RSS feeds, and clicking on all of them is quite cumbersome. So here is a kludge workaround to mark all feeds as read if you use IE7 as your RSS Reader:

In your Feeds section of your Favorites Center in IE7, right click and create a folder(s) in which to put all of your feeds. Highlight the folder with your feeds and click on the arrow that appears to the far right in that feeds window. That will open up all your feeds in separate tabs, and in the process, mark all of them read (assuming you have that preference turned on -- if you don't, right click in the feeds section and click Proprties. Then click on Automatically Mark Feed As Read When Reading a Feed).

Yes, this is ugly. But it is faster than going through all of your 50s or 100s of feeds one by one. Just make sure  you don't break IE7 by opening up too many tabs ;-)

By the way, I now use Dare's RSS Bandit.